Policies, Procedures & Resources for All Charter Schools
As the State Education Agency, the New York State Education Department’s mission is to raise the knowledge, skill, and opportunity of all the people in New York. Charter schools are part of the work happening across New York State to realize this mission. The resources found here are designed to ensure charter schools receive timely and accurate information regarding state guidance, resources, and opportunities available to them.
Charter School Audit Guide
In New York State, charter schools are defined as “independent and autonomous public schools”and are authorized by the New York Charter Schools Act of 1998 (Article 56 of the New York State Education Law). New York State charter schools are legally organized as not-for-profit education corporations to the terms of a contractual agreement, or charter, between the school and the chartering entity which approved the school’s application for a charter. Charter schools are non-sectarian, tuition-free, open to all students residing in the State, governed by the school’s own self-selecting board of trustees, and independent of existing school districts.
The Charter Schools Act authorizes several entities as “chartering entities” or “authorizers” that can receive and approve applications for charters and then conduct oversight and evaluation of the charter schools that the entity has approved. Prior to 2010, the Act authorized the Board of Regents and the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York as statewide chartering entities and all local boards of education as chartering entities for their respective school districts. Amendments to the Act in 2010 removed the authority of local boards of education to approve applications for new charters although those boards remain the chartering entities for any charter schools they had previously authorized (only the New York City Chancellor, on behalf of the New York City Department of Education and the Buffalo Board of Education have exercised the option to approve charter schools in their districts). All applications for new charters must now be submitted to either the Board of Regents or the SUNY Board of Trustees. In addition, local boards of education continue to have the authority to approve applications for the conversion of existing public schools to charter schools within their respective school districts.
About the Guide
The Charter Schools Act requires that a charter school be subject to the financial audits, the audit procedures, and the audit requirements described in its charter. The procedures and standards must be applied consistent with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS) and Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS). Independent audits of financial statements are required at least once annually. The audits are required to be comparable in scope to those required of other public schools, keeping in mind that charter schools are required to follow the accounting standards set by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and school districts are required to follow the accounting standards set by the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB).
The Audit Guide was developed to provide assistance to auditors of charter schools authorized by the Board of Regents as well as for any charter school receiving federal Charter Schools Program funds through the Department. The guidance is focused on helping auditors understand the differences between charter schools and other non-profit entities, as well as providing specific guidance to auditors and charter school management about the form and content of reports and testing required by the Department and State education law for Regents-authorized charter schools. Other charter entities are encouraged to adopt the guide as they see fit.
Charter school administrators are encouraged to read the guide in order to understand the areas their independent auditor will be focusing on in addition to routine financial matters.
Applicability of New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and Open Meetings Law to Charter Schools
Education Law §2854(1)(e) states that Charter Schools are subject to the provisions of Article 6 (Freedom of Information Law) and Article 7 (Open Meetings Law) of the NYS Public Officers Law.
The NYS Committee on Open Government’s website includes information on the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and the Open Meetings Law, including a directory of advisory opinions issued by the Committee, Frequently Asked Questions on both laws, and links to a series of short, educational videos.
The Charter School Office strongly recommends that Charter School Applicants, as well as current Charter School Boards of Trustees and Administrators familiarize themselves with these laws to ensure that School policies and procedures are consist with both laws, and that meetings of the School’s Board of Trustees are conducted in compliance with the requirements of the Open Meetings Law. The full texts of both laws are available on the NYS Committee on Open Government’s website at the links below:
Estado de Nueva York Ley de Libertad de Información (FOIL) y la Ley de Reuniones Abiertas en Español
Aplicabilidad de la Ley de Libertad de Información (Freedom of Information Law, FOIL) y de la Ley de Reuniones Abiertas (Open Meetings Law) del Estado de Nueva York a las escuelas semiautónomas (Charter Schools en inglés) El artículo 2854(1)(e) de la Ley de Educación establece que las escuelas semiautónomas están sujetas a las disposiciones del Artículo 6 (Ley de Libertad de Información) y del Artículo 7 (Ley de Reuniones Abiertas) de la Ley de Funcionarios Públicos del Estado de Nueva York (NYS Public Officers Law).
El sitio web del Comité de Gobierno Abierto del Estado de Nueva York incluye información sobre la Ley de Libertad de Información (FOIL) y la Ley de Reuniones Abiertas, y contiene un directorio de asesoramiento publicado por el Comité, preguntas frecuentes sobre ambas leyes, y enlaces a una serie de videos cortos educativos.
La Oficina de Escuelas Semiautónomas recomienda firmemente que tanto los solicitantes de escuelas semiautónomas como el consejo de administración y los administradores de las escuelas semiautónomas se familiaricen con estas leyes para asegurar que las políticas y procedimientos de la escuela cumplan ambas leyes, y que las reuniones del consejo de administración de la escuela se realicen en cumplimiento de los requisitos de la Ley de Reuniones Abiertas.
Los textos completos de ambas leyes están disponibles en el sitio web del Comité de Gobierno Abierto del Estado de Nueva York en los siguientes enlaces:
How to Request a Certificate of Good Standing/Existence
A Certificate of Good Standing (otherwise known as a Certificate of Existence) can be obtained by either of the steps below:
- Send an email to Meghan.Nickel@nysed.gov and Kirti.Goswami@nysed.gov,
- Send a fax to Meghan and Kirti at 518-473-2925.
In your request, please be sure to include the following:
- The full name of the entity
- The number of copies required (If more than one original is requested, please include this information in your request.)
- The address the document/s should be sent to
Please note that there is no fee for processing this request. Also note that the overall process typically takes 7-10 business days to complete, although it is not unusual for more complicated situations to take double that time; Please plan accordingly.
NYSED Weighted Lottery Generator - for All Charter School Receiving CSP Funds
Prior to amendments made to the 2014 federal Non-Regulatory Charter Schools Program (CSP) Guidance, charter schools receiving CSP funds were not permitted to weight admissions lotteries to favor certain student subgroups. With the approval of the U.S. Department of Education, New York State charter schools may now weight admissions through the use of a Weighted Lottery Generator created by the Charter School Office.
The Weighted Lottery Generator is only intended to be used by schools receiving CSP funds. Please be sure to carefully read the guidance below for use of the Generator. Charter schools will not be permitted to use the program without first following the directions contained in the guidance. For planning purposes, charter schools may only weight for one at-risk subgroup of educationally disadvantaged students (i.e., economically disadvantaged students, English language learners, or students with disabilities). Consideration of one subgroup weight should be reflected in a request to modify a current enrollment policy in order to use the Weighted Lottery Generator.
Yearly Fire Inspection of All Charter Schools
To: School Leaders and Board Chairs of All Charter Schools
From: Lisa Long, Executive Director
Date: January 27, 2023
Subject: Yearly Fire Inspection of New York City and Rest of State Charter Schools
All charter schools operating in New York State are required to have an initial fire inspection and valid Certificate of Occupancy prior to the use of any building to be occupied by anyone, including, but not limited to, children, faculty, and/or staff. Thereafter, charter schools are required to maintain a valid Certificate of Occupancy and must obtain annual fire inspections as a condition of operation. Fire inspection reports are required to be completed annually. Failure to meet these requirements can result in the immediate inability to continue to operate in the applicable facility.
Charter Schools in New York City
For charter schools in New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) co-located space, the NYCDOE assumes all responsibility for the building, and no further action is needed from the school unless otherwise notified by the NYCDOE. All other charter schools located in New York City are responsible for ensuring that the initial and subsequent annual fire inspections occur. In New York City, annual fire inspections are conducted centrally by the FDNY Bureau of Fire Prevention, not the local fire precinct.
An initial fire inspection may be requested from the FDNY by calling the Public Buildings Unit at 718-999-2411 or you may request an inspection online by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail). Upon inspection by the FDNY, an A106 form will be issued (see sample below). It is this form, in New York City, that may be requested by your authorizer to verify that the charter school has met all fire inspection requirements.
After the initial fire inspection, the FDNY should automatically schedule fire inspections on an annual basis. If this fails to occur, it is the responsibility of the charter school to ensure that the FDNY is contacted annually, and a fire inspection takes place in the required time frame.
Rest of State Charter Schools
All Charter schools outside of New York City are required to hold emergency drills, and comply with annual fire inspection reporting requirements, as follows:
Schools chartered prior to 2010 are subject to local code enforcement rules and requirements, with the locality serving as the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). These schools are required to have an annual fire inspection, between July 1st and December 1st, after which the Nonpublic School Fire Inspection Report must be submitted to the NYSED State Office of Religious and Independent Schools (SORIS) no later than December 16th each year through the NYSED Application Business Portal. Hard copy paper inspection reports are no longer accepted by NYSED. For these purposes, the Nonpublic School Fire Inspection Report and Manual are used.
Schools chartered after 2010 must adhere to the same requirements as all other public schools within New York State (and outside of New York City), with NYSED Office of Facilities Planning serving as the AHJ. Prior to occupancy, all charter school buildings must obtain a valid Certificate of Occupancy from NYSED. These schools are required to have an annual fire inspection, and the due dates for these inspections are determined by the school’s geographic location within New York State. Hard copy paper inspection reports are no longer accepted by NYSED. Instead, each school must obtain a valid Certificate of Occupancy through the NYSED Application Business Portal. The NYSED Office of Facilities Planning can assist charter schools with any questions or comments about this process and can guide charter school representatives through submission of the required information, electronically, through the portal. Additional information on this process can be found at: https://www.p12.nysed.gov/facplan/FireSafety.htm.
Please note: Approval by the NYSED Office of Facilities Planning is required whether or not the building is leased versus owned, and even if the school receives facility approval and/or a Certificate of Occupancy from the local jurisdiction.